Destinations

The Snow Gauge: what’s new on the slopes

Glenn Cullen - AAP

Your weekly ski and snowboard round-up.

FIRST TRACKS

Nice to see some of the superstars of winter sports lobbing on both sides of the Tasman to get their snow fill. No less than 2014 Olympic snowboard slopestyle winner Sage Kotsenburg has been ripping it up down at Perisher in recent days.

A recap: this is the man who said he winged the trick that won him gold in Sochi and the night before the competition he’d fallen asleep on his lounge eating chips, lollies and watching Fight Club. There’s a whole bunch of pro athletes at Mt Hotham too, including skier cross world champion Chris del Bosco.

Across the ditch the NZ Winter Games have kicked off in what is the biggest snow event outside the Winter Olympics. Athletes to feature include a swag of Olympic gold medallists such as halfpipe riders Iouri `iPod’ Podladtchikov, Kelly Clark and American slalom skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin.

The Games, held around the ski resorts at Queenstown and Wanaka, run through to the end of the month.

Sage

EPIC SHOULD PASS, NOT FAIL

The new Epic Australia Pass is now available, giving skiers and snowboarders the opportunity to ride at Perisher next season and then at places such as Vail, Breckenridge, Park City and Heavenly during the US season of 2016/17.

Sure, it’s to drive Aussies over to the other Vail-owned resorts but at $749 (almost half what we had to pay for a local-only season pass here a few years ago) it matters not. While The Snow Gauge reckons it’s a cracker, he’ll watch with fascination how the international bookings unfold this year off the back of the inaugural season deal.

As good as this pass is there’s no hiding from the fact that the Aussie dollar is tanking against the greenback, to the point any cost savings made on passes may well be lost at the exchange anyway. The Aussie sits at around 74 cents at the moment; a more palatable 97 cents against the Canadian and 92 to the Yen.

BIG SNOW YEAR PREDICTED IN THE STATES

And on matters North American snow, the early indicators are a big season may be looming. I chuckle in my Cheerios every time I hear a bumper year predicted by local marketing types off the back of a 10cm snowfall in April but this report has some substance.

Climatologists at the American National Weather Services Climate Prediction Centre have just confirmed that all of their models are predicting El Nino to peak in the US autumn/early winter. While Californians will welcome the drought-breaking rains that will likely come with it, snow lovers can also rejoice.

The early tip is that it will be a stronger El Nino than 1997, when many western and resorts received twice their regular seasonal snowfalls. Bring it on.

Hothamsunrise

CONDITIONS APPLY – WITH WEATHER GURU PETE `THE FROG’ TAYLOR

Have we seen the best of the 2015 snow season? It’s starting to look that way but well know a little more after the weekend. The Frog says predicted rain damage starting Friday and Saturday will be minimal but he’s more concerned about Sunday where the wet may well set in for a day or more. Fingers crossed it fizzes out.

Looking ahead there’s the prospect of a little snow the following week but not enough to make up the shortfall. The suggestion is by mid-September things could be pretty thin so watch for a break in the weather and get in over the next fortnight.

New Zealand enjoyed some great top-ups north and south after a little pre-frontal rain this week with not much more on the immediate horizon. But with generally good bases across most major resorts and clubbies it will be advantage the Kiwis this spring. For The Frog’s up-to-date weather forecasts: www.snowatch.com.au

TOP GEAR

Bedding down: If you can afford a pair of ski boots, you can afford custom foot beds – it’s as simple as that. Foot beds are like the inner sole of the gods (Achilles if I had to guess), designed to fit your feet like, well, a glove. Ted Suurkivi is the master craftsman at One Tree Sports in Mt Hotham. He can rule out 80 per cent of boots after just looking at your foot.

Ted will measure you up and create the custom beds, mapping your feet before moulding the insoles. They’ll then be tweaked according to your type of feet – a process which takes around 40 minutes.

Ted reckons about 50 per cent of boot purchasers in store go for the beds these days. While they’re $220, a few days skiing in them will tell you they’re worth every cent.

Ted

DEALING WITH IT

Mt Hotham is doing mates rates midweek – with lift passes, lessons and rentals all at four for the price of three. See: www.mthotham.com.au/matesrates

LAST RESORT – A LOOK AT AUSTRALASIA’S FORGOTTEN ALPINE AREAS

Mt Buffalo, Victoria: A bit of nostalgia this week as we get on board with the push to get The Chalet at Mt Buffalo restored for future use – and perhaps some family skiing provided too. For those not familiar with the area it is located just west of Bright in the Victorian high country.

Its Cresta Valley ski lift – the first in Australia – and lodge were destroyed by a fire in 2006, the Victorian government at the time saying it would not rebuild the modest lift infrastructure of the resort with the $6.4 million insurance payout because global warming would ensure it would rarely see enough snow up to its 1723m peak. (Pity it wasn’t a national issue right now as climate change denial would surely render this argument moot).

The status of the classic chalet looks paramount to doing anything else and there is now a Facebook Page pushing the Victorian government to act after a decade of neglect. With a build-it-and-they-will-come ethos there are suggestions the resort could become fully functional with two chairlifts and two pomas as soon as 2016. See: Community Action for the Chalet Facebook page and www.mtbuffalo.com for more info.

Vail Resorts Winter 2012 / 2013 Ski Shoot, Kirkwood Backcountry Jesse Ambrogi-yanson, Kevin Flores, John Mason, Amy Hodgkins

Facebook.com/thesnowgauge.net
Twitter: @thesnowgauge

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